Copyright Challenges in Digital Era

Copyright Challenges in Digital Era
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Copyright or author right is an exclusive right of the creator of the original work. The digital era safeguards creative and cultural products, including music, videos, films, books, software codes, databases, and online curated content. According to the Indian Copyright Act of 1957, copyright does not need to be registered, and the scope of its impact is hard to quantify. Consequently, it remains a challenge to determine the liability, jurisdiction, rights and revenue lost due to copyright infringement.

This report deliberates about understanding the copyright challenges and infringement in the light of prevailing copyright legislation and its enforcement. It also explores the current digital scenario where such challenges can be deterred through technology. We also look at legislative, judicial, technological and policy developments to get insights into India's practices.


Intellectual Property (IP) refers to the creations of the mind, including inventions, designs, symbols, names, images, literary and artistic works used in commerce[1].  IP  enable the owner/creator of the  IP  to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they have invented or created, for example, trademarks, patents, copyright, designs, geographical indications, trade secrets etc.

Copyright is a vital intellectual property (IP) that guarantees a creator the right to safeguard the expressions of literary, artistic, dramatic, musical work, cinematography film, and sound recording of an original work. It bolsters innovation and creativity while controlling the reproduction of work and grants IP rights to people, groups of individuals, or organizing parties involved in presenting their work in the public domain, such as broadcasters or performers.

Copyright grants a bundle of rights to the authors or creators to safeguard their original work, such as the right to use, right to reproduce the work, right to broadcast, right to perform publicly etc. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) describes copyright as the authors' rights over their literary or artistic work that includes books, music, paintings, sculpture and films to computer programmes, databases, advertisements, technical drawings, and maps.[2] Copyright law gives control to authors or creators over their products. Thus, writers, performers, musicians, students, researchers, teachers, librarians, movie producers etc., exist in a web of cultural and economic relations subject to copyright law in India. Copyrights infringement can be seen both as a financial and moral violation. With the proliferation of the internet and internet-connected devices, copyright infringement has become seamless and at scale.

The most significant change in today's era is in the digital domain. Copyright protection has become a significant challenge because of technological advancements such as software's, videos, music, OTT platforms, etc. According to the USTR Annual Special 301 report, an estimated 2.5 or nearly half a trillion dollars' worth of imports worldwide are pirated and counterfeit goods.

As of October2020, roughly 4.66 billion people worldwide use the internet, close to 60% of the world's total population, and the number is still rising. Internet users around the globe are growing at an annualized rate of more than 7%, which amounts to more than 875,000 new users each day.

In India, as of December 2020, the value of the audio OTT market was 250 million, and the music consumption per week stood at 21.5 hours that is comparatively higher than the global average of 17.8 hours. According to The State of Online Video Report 2020, In India, as of December 2020, viewers watch the most online video each week at an average of 10hours & 54minutes, outdoing the global average by 3 hours.

Therefore, in this digital era, the protection of work by copyright has become a significant challenge because of the emergence of new categories and works such as software, digital music, videos, OTT platforms (music and video). The copyright-related issues/infringement in the digital domain can be carried at a  low cost, with ease and even without compromising quality. Besides this, serious problems that are coming up in Indian legislation including, internet piracy, rights of reproduction, the liability of internet service providers (ISP), jurisdiction, implementation of laws, jurisdiction issues, are some of the biggest concerns of this era.

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